The London and South East Traffic Commissioner, Sarah Bell, is warning operator licence holders who choose to provide cover for disqualified operators that they will face potentially lengthy periods of disqualification from the industry.
Bell said the practice of ‘fronting’ leads to loss of repute and that anyone tempted to help out a disqualified operator should expect significant consequences on their future ability to operate.
She added that it is an aggravating feature when the entity behind the front is already debarred from holding its own licence.
The warning follows a public inquiry last month which led the Traffic Commissioner to hand out a 10-year disqualification to the director of two haulage firms – and the companies themselves – for providing a front to a disqualified haulier.
Sarah Bell said Mark Goosey had acted dishonestly in relation to his companies, D & R Grab Hire Services and SWS Transport, since at least 2015.
In an interview with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), Goosey made a number of admissions in relation to the use of vehicles under his licences, including that:
· There had been over 350 episodes of drivers driving without a card
· He had used two untaxed vehicles on the public highway
· He had used vehicles outside of the margins on both licences
· He had failed to disclose the use of various vehicles
· He had been dishonest with the Traffic Examiner about Thomas McKinney’s involvement during a previous visit
Goosey subsequently revealed that McKinney was involved with SWS Transport, taking a 10% financial cut on work for the company and attending at the premises sometimes two or three times per day.
In her written decision, Bell said that McKinney’s unscrupulous conduct as an operator was a matter of public record. She added: “I note originally Mr Goosey denied any connection with Thomas McKinney. He was unable to maintain that assertion in light of the cogent evidence put before him subsequently in the interview. The explanation was essentially that he did not want to be tainted with Mr McKinney’s history.
“Based on the limited evidence provided by Mr Goosey and the comprehensive investigation by Traffic Examiner Morris, in my judgement Mr Goosey has acted dishonestly in relation to D & R and SWS since at least 2015.
“On balance, I prefer DVSA’s evidence that at least part of Mr Goosey’s two transport operations were a front for Mr McKinney.”
The Senior Traffic Commissioner’s Statutory Document on Good Repute and Fitness states that the practice of ‘fronting’ is serious and deprives traffic commissioners of the opportunity to regulate the true operator of the vehicles.